Visualizing Data

I’m a visual learner. Let’s be real here, there’s a lot of information out there that uses words, but forgets the infographics to accompany them. Do I really want to spend my time searching for answers by reading statistics? No, not really.

Adding visual data helps back up the story, and answers questions. While including a unique visual is more memorable to keep information retained.


This week, I dove into a project that would help my understanding of the importance of visual data and infographics. So, I had to ask myself, how should I do it? 

Sarah Illenberger is an artist who’s known for creating visuals through objects. It’s a unique way to get the information out, especially when infographics are mostly done digitally now. 

Infographic by Sarah Illenberger relating to a sex survey for Neon Magazine.

What a great way to incorporate 3D with 2D! I decided to use physical objects as the base for my design direction.

Research For My Design

For my visual data, I wanted to find statistics relating to the humanization of pets, specifically dogs. Millennials and Gen-Z are consistently raising the average amounts of pets per household versus babies, known as the “fur-baby” trend

“Trend” to me sounds like this will die-out, but I don’t think it will. We’re treating our pets as family members, and because of that, we’re giving them healthier alternatives to what’s been standard for years before.

One huge factor with better quality of life is their food. 

Dry food is becoming less and less popular as it’s majorly processed and less nutritious. Fresh and raw food diets are growing as a better alternative for our pets’ health, longevity, and happiness.

According to a study in 2018, following up from the same study made in 2008, 78% of dogs are provided with some real food in their diet.

My chart from these statistics

This is the data I ran with for my take on visual data. 

My Visual Design

For my design, I created a twist on the sunburst effect, where the hierarchical order goes from the outside (being a higher percentage) to the inside (lower percentage). The data moves in a spiral to show continuity and movement. 

My Visual Design

While the dry food percentage has gone down over the years (therefore not the highest percentage), I wanted to begin with it as it’s been a standard base for most pets. The more recent typical transition from dry food usually starts with mixing it with fresh food. In this way, the spiral also shows an approximate chronological order.

I set up the space as such, using the three elements of visual data.

  1. I used oak tag paper as my Spatial Substrate – the space where the data is created.
    • This is most often seen as 2D while most infographics now are digital. But in this case, it’s a mix of 2 and 3D. 3D for when I set up the space with the objects, and 2D for when the photo was taken. 
  2. The visual elements I used to appear on the substrate are mostly points and volumes. From a graphical perspective, there are also lines.
    • The individual pieces of kibble and fresh food are serving as points and volume as they grow larger or get smaller. 
    • The lines are used as a visual key to indicate the data.
  3. With the visual elements are properties which make the elements less or more significant. 
    • The spiral uses orientation which shows both approximate hierarchy and chronological order.
    • The size/volume of the sections of food indicate a larger or smaller significance to the percentages. 
    • As mentioned before, the colored lines are a key for indication. 

This project was a lot of fun! It’s been a long time since I’ve made a visual design in person rather than digitally, and it was nice getting back into it again.

I hadn’t really thought much about the importance of data visualization before now. I’ve always known them as something added onto information rather than a large factor in understanding said information. From now on, I’ll likely notice myself looking for more visual credibility than ever before!


The Humanization of Pets. (2019, September 16).

McCandless, D. (2021). What Makes a Good Data Visualization .

Pets instead of children: the fur baby trend. (2021).

Sinar, E. (2016, February 14). 7 Data Visualization Types You Should be Using More (and How to Start).

Thixton, S. (2021, April). Majority of Pet Owners Give Their Pets Some Homemade Food.

Visual Mapping – The Elements of Information Visualization. (2020).

One thought on “Visualizing Data

  1. Hi Julie —-

    To one degree or other I looked at several visualizing data blog entries this week and I thought yours was one of the best if not the best one that I reviewed. Your commentary here was neither too long or too short and I felt that your narrative was rather seamless. From setting up what makes good visualization, to your researched data, to how you set up your space using the three elements of visual data – kudos!

    In advancing your post I also liked how you appropriately integrated the literature – the McCandless What Makes a Good Data Visualization graphic and the three elements of visual data/spatial substrate discussion come to mind here.

    Most all I love your visual design itself, the main cognitive and physical task involved. Your visual design reminds of what I might call a Pinterest-like style. I think this especially as I was drawn to look at some other parts of your blog.

    I really like your visual design’s simple, clean aesthetic and how form and function just “work”. The elements that you chose — their size, how you arranged them, the distinguishing colors, even the “string” length do a great job of synergically and accurately underscoring your numerical values and concepts.

    20 something old —- methinks you have a bright future!

    Kevin Pointer

    Liked by 1 person

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